Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues to expand its military operations in southern Yemen. While AQAP forces fight the Yemeni Army to a standstill in Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, other AQAP military units have been attacking government forces in Abyan, Lahj, Baydah, and Hadramout over the past two months. Yesterday, an AQAP force attacked a Yemeni Army base in Lawdar, sparking heavy fighting. From Reuters:
Twenty seven fighters were killed in Monday’s clash with the army and five when warplanes bombed a checkpoint they were holding, officials and residents said. Eighteen soldiers, an army colonel, and six pro-government tribesmen were also killed.
A military official said the army drove the fighters away from the area around the camp. The militants said in an emailed statement that none of their fighters was killed in the clash, and threatened to attack Lawdar.
Intermittent gunfire was heard throughout the afternoon while the military carried out a second air strike, but no casualties were reported, officials and residents said.
Mohammed Nasser, a resident of Lawdar, speaking by telephone with the sound of artillery and small arms fire audible, said the fighting lasted three hours.
A local official said tribal militiamen joined the fighting alongside the military, and that at least 10 soldiers and tribesmen were wounded.
“We ask for the state and the army to provide us with heavy weapons because we are fighting with our own personal arms and the other side has advanced weapons like RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and bazookas,” said Ali Ayda, a tribal fighter.
Today, an additional 56 al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters, four soldiers, and three tribesmen were killed during the second day of fighting in Lawdar.
And in Marib province, AQAP fighters attacked yet another Yemeni military outpost. Eight soldiers and five AQAP fighters were killed in the clash.
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